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How to Practice English Conversation: Tips for Newcomers.

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As a newcomer to Canada, learning a new language is essential to succeed in this new country.


On the journey to improve my English, I explored many methodologies, as I explained in 6 tips to improve your English if you are considering moving abroad.


One of the last resources I used that I wish I had discovered earlier was a platform called Italki. I used it for a long time and completed over 130 lessons while preparing to come to Canada and after arriving.


In this blog post, we will explore the importance of learning a new language as a newcomer to Canada, the advantages of using Italki, how to create a profile, how to get the most out of the platform, price ranges and the differences between selecting a tutor or a teacher.


Table of contents




1. Importance of Learning a New Language for a Newcomer to Canada.


Learning a new language is an essential step for newcomers to Canada. Language is the key to communication and understanding between people. Knowing the language spoken in the country where you live is essential to get by in everyday life.


In Canada, the official languages are English and French. Depending on the province or city in which you live, one of these two languages may be the most widely spoken. Learning the language of the province you live in can help you communicate with your neighbours, colleagues and friends.


In addition, learning a new language can open new doors for you, such as better job opportunities, social interaction, a deeper understanding of the country's culture and better performance on English tests required to apply for permanent residency and citizenship in Canada, such as the CELPIP test.



2. Advantages of Using Italki.


Italki is an online platform that connects language learners with certified tutors and teachers. One of the most significant advantages of using Italki is its flexibility.


Since the platform is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you can schedule sessions with tutors or teachers at a time that suits you. For example, you can find a tutor available if you prefer to learn early in the morning or late at night.


You can learn a new language at your own pace, anywhere in the world and at any time that suits you. Italki offers many languages, such as English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, etc. In my case, I used it to practice English.


Smiling man using headphones looking to a laptop.
At Italki you can practice English conversation with tutors or teachers.

You can choose the tutor or teacher that best suits your learning style and goals, whether you want to focus on conversation, grammar or writing.


Another advantage of Italki is the affordability of the platform. Italki offers a range of prices for language lessons, depending on the experience and credentials of the tutor or teacher. This allows you to find a tutor or teacher that fits your budget.


In addition, Italki offers a trial lesson option, which means you can try different tutors or teachers to find the one that best suits you.


3. How to Create a Profile on Italki.


Creating a profile on Italki is very simple. First, visit the Italki website and select the "Start Learning" option.


You will be asked to enter your email address and create a password. Once you have done this, you will be asked to select your language level and the language you want to learn. You will also be asked to indicate your reasons for learning the language and preferred learning style.


man wearing a blue shirt connected to a laptop
Creating a profile on Italki is very simple

After creating your profile, you can search for tutors or teachers using the search bar on the Italki website. You can search for tutors or teachers by language, teaching style and price.


Italki also offers a feature to filter search results based on the availability and location of the tutor or teacher.


Each tutor or teacher has recorded a video so you can browse to find the one you like best.


4. How to Make the Most of the Italki Platform.


Having clear objectives to get the most out of the Italki platform is essential.

  • Identify what you want to achieve by learning a new language and communicate this to your tutor or teacher.

  • Be open and honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and ask your tutor or teacher for feedback on your progress.

  • In addition, it is essential to set aside time for regular language learning. Consistency is vital to mastering a new language.


Woman using a yellow sweater in front of a laptop.
Having clear objectives to get the most out of the Italki platform is essential.

5. Pricing.


Italki offers different price ranges for tutors and teachers, depending on their experience and credentials.


Italki also offers a wide range of prices, so you can find a tutor that fits your budget. Fees range from $10 per hour for community tutors to $50 per hour for professional tutors.


Some tutors also offer discounts for purchasing multiple lessons at once, which can be an excellent way to save money. I used to use this; once I found a tutor I felt comfortable with, I started buying packages with her, which saved me a few dollars.


6. Differences Between Selecting a Tutor or Teacher.


When selecting a tutor or teacher at Italki, there are a few things to remember.


First, consider the qualifications and experience of the tutor. Professional teachers tend to have more experience and training, but community tutors can also be good choices if they have relevant experience or qualifications.


As mentioned in point 4, if you are unsure whether to choose a tutor or a teacher, it is worth considering your goals when learning English.

Woman using a white shirt, holding a book on her hands in front of a green board
You can choose between a tutor or teacher.

A private tutor may be an excellent option to improve your conversational skills or learn vocabulary related to a particular topic. However, you may be better off with a teacher if you seek more structured grammar lessons or exam preparation.


In my case, I just wanted to practice conversation to feel more confident in my skills, and I chose a tutor for that.


It is also essential to read reviews from other students to get a feel for the teacher's teaching style and effectiveness.


Many private teachers also offer a trial lesson or a short video introduction, which can be an excellent way to get a feel for their teaching style before committing to a longer lesson.



7. Additional tips


I add here additional resources that can help you practice conversation in English. I have not used all of them, but you can explore until you find the one that fits your needs.


  • Join a language exchange group: Language exchange groups provide an excellent opportunity to practice English with native speakers. You can find language exchange groups on websites like MeetUp or through Facebook groups. I've also seen English Conversation Circles posted in city libraries, but I understand those are only available to residents and refugees.


  • Attend local events: Attend local events in your community to meet new people and practice your English. For example, last summer here in Mississauga, there were many festivals of different cultures, we went to most of them, and it was always an opportunity to buy something and even chat with people sitting near us.


Two women walking through a fair browsing for earrings.
Attend local events in your community to meet new people and practice your English.

  • Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and practice your English in a real-world setting. Search for local non-profit organizations looking for volunteers in your area and websites in your city with food banks, pet shelters, etc.


  • Find an English conversation partner: Find a conversation partner who is a native speaker of English and schedule regular meetings to practice your conversation skills.


If you want to practice skills other than speaking, I suggest the following:


  • Watch TV shows and movies in English: Watching TV shows and movies in English is a great way to improve your English level. Also, try watching programs with English subtitles to understand the language better.


  • Listen to podcasts in English: Listening to podcasts in English is another great way to improve your listening skills. Look for podcasts on topics that interest you and listen to them regularly to improve your comprehension and conversational skills.


Woman using a white t-shirt and headphones
Listening to podcasts in English is another great way to improve your listening skills

  • Read in English: If you enjoy reading, keep reading books that interest you. This will allow you to gain more vocabulary; you can do it through physical books or download them.


  • Listen to audiobooks: If you prefer to consume books by listening, you can search for audiobooks on apps like Audible. The advantage is that you can listen while walking or doing other activities.


 


Overall, Italki is a powerful tool for improving your English skills as a newcomer to Canada. By taking advantage of the flexibility, affordability and variety of tutors and teachers available on the platform, you can quickly improve your language skills and start feeling more confident in your new home.


For other ways to improve your English, check out Six Tips to improve your English if you're thinking of moving abroad.


I advocate always continuing to improve your skills; if this platform doesn't suit you, that's fine, but find another way that suits you, take action and start practicing somehow. So go for it!

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